Post by Woland on Mar 30, 2020 19:12:14 GMT -5
Iranian cinema gained hipster appeal in the 90s followed by mainstream appeal in the 2010s thanks to "A Separation" winning at the Oscars. There's no doubt the Iranian revolution and subsequent censorship changed society, the way filmmakers operate and affected attitudes towards Iranian cinema in general (Roger Ebert hated "A Taste of Cherry" and claimed it only gained critical acclaim because it's from Iran).
So what did Iranian cinema look like pre-Revolution? Finding a movie in decent film quality is hard enough let alone with English subtitles, making the task all that harder, though thanks to kind souls from the Internet, a few notable examples survive.
Forough Farrokhzad was/is a hugely revered female poet, she had a relationship with Iranian director Ibrahim Golestan until she was tragically killed in a car accident at just 32 years of age. Her poems were banned by the Islamic clerics for over a decade. In 1963 just 4 years before her death she travelled to a leper colony and made this short documentar, interspersing verses from the Koran and her own poetry as counterpoint to the sometimes upsetting images.
Note: some disturbing imagery for the squeamish.
Dariush Mehrjui put Iranian cinema on the map by winning top prize at the Venice Film Festival in 1971. "The Cow" focuses on a villager's prized cow (only one in the village) dying while he's away in the capital, the villagers try to coverup the cow's death as they fear he'll go crazy. It's sometimes called the kickstarter for the Iranian "new wave" (every country in the 60s had a cinematic wave apparently).
Compared to other major Iranian directors post-revolution, Mehrjui suffered far less censorship and intrusion from the Government, he's sometimes labelled as an apologist for the regime, although the success of "The Cow" inspired the pre-Revolutionary government to increase funding for Iranian cinema.
Abbas Kiarostami is considered the greatest Iranian filmmaker outside of Iran, inside of Iran his work doesn't overtly criticise the regime and (particularly) his later work felt more like intellectual exercise than the work which received such adoration from Akira Kurosawa. Abbas Kiarostami's early work was funded by the Institute for the Intellectual Development of Children and Young Adults in Tehran, one of the big reasons children are often the protagonists in his early shorts and documentaries.
"Two Solutions for One problem" from 1975 was his first work in colour, one of his more accessible early works.
"Still Life" (1974) is a very slow movie about a man who's spent the last 30 years as a crossing guard at a train station in the middle of nowhere, now facing enforced retirement he's unsure what to do with himself. Sohrab Shahid-Saless was criticised by the pre-Revolutionary government for his subtle criticisms to the point he settled in West Germany, producing documentaries and TV movies until his death in 1998.
The most successful pre-Revolutionary Iranian series is the wonderfully titled "My Uncle Napoleon", based on a best selling novel. It's on youtube sans english subtitles unfortunately, might have to just settle for the book instead.